Improve Security At Courthouse

Monroe County Sheriff Charles Black is absolutely right in his desire to get a metal-detecting device in operation as soon as possible at the county courthouse in Woodsfield. County commissioners should work with him to expedite the installation.

Concern over security at courthouses in our area seems to have waned a bit since last summer, when a shocking event focused attention, at least for a time, on the problem.

On Aug. 21, Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. was walking to his office in the courthouse at Steubenville when a man with a gun ambushed him. Fortunately, Bruzzese was armed, too, and returned fire. A probation officer killed the assailant.

As Bruzzese was recovering from his wound, many local government officials in our area discussed how to improve security for public officials and in public buildings. Monroe County officials were among them.

It was agreed to limit access to the Monroe County courthouse by using only an entrance in an alley. Two security officers watch that door.

During their meeting last week, county commissioners heard Black suggest that plan be abandoned and courthouse visitors be permitted to enter through the front door. That makes sense for a couple of reasons, one of them being that the alley entrance is not as visible as the alternative.

Black also noted the county has obtained a walk-through scanner that can be used to detect metal items carried by people entering the courthouse. Where to place the scanner was discussed.

“Ideally, I would like to see it at the front entrance,” Black told commissioners.

He is right about that, too. It should cost little to get the scanner in operation, and that would improve security at the courthouse greatly.

Do officials in little Monroe County, Ohio, need to worry about such things? Yes. Ask Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla. In the wake of Bruzzese’s shooting, he joined others in shock, and remarked, “Whoever thought this could happen here?”